Wednesday, September 9, 2009

25 years ago: The First Private Rocket Launch

The rocket - The Conestoga 1 - carried a payload of 40 pounds of water and soared 321 miles during its 10.5 minute-ride that reached a sub-orbital height of 195 miles. It took off from a Texas cattle ranch and landed in the Gulf of Mexico, where it sank to the bottom. It's still there. Space Services of America, the company that undertook the project, had seven employees at the time, one of whom was Deke Slayton, a former Mercury 7 astronaut who was also the company president and mission director.

Conestoga 1 "was fired by people who weren’t out to invent anything — they just wanted to prove that you didn’t need a massive space program to power something into space."

Mission accomplished.

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